SEMA 2007: Chevy HHR Panel SS delivers smiles at SEMA

Click image for updated gallery of live and media pics of this mini panel van

Chevy had shown the HHR SS at the Woodward Dream Cruise, making dreams come true for a select few who wanted this retro people mover to haul more than just people and stuff. Then we saw Chevy show off a panel van version of the HHR and thought it too could use some SS love. To that GM said, "Here you go." Tonight in Vegas we saw one of those '09 Chevy HHR Panel SSes in all its windowless wonder. Although the red leather accents were a bit over the top for our liking, the mean stance and mechanical upgrades made it much more palatable. This particular example is a SEMA special, but the limited edition production model shouldn't stray too far from the template. The bar-less grille, polished metal accents, custom "suede" paint scheme with a panel graphic, and 20" wheels look great in person. Underhood is the same 2.0L DI turbo found in the HHR SS, although paired to an automatic transmission in this case. No word yet on whether or not the production version will be available with the five-speed manual.

Follow the jump for GM's official press release, and check out galleries of the HHR Panel SS production and show cars below.

[Source: GM]

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At the 2007 SEMA Show, Chevrolet revealed the HHR Panel SS – a customized vision that previews a forthcoming production model differing only slightly from the stylized SEMA concept. The Panel SS fuses the production HHR SS's turbocharged powertrain and race track-bred suspension with the unique HHR Panel body style.

"It was natural that our designers and engineers brought up the 'what if' question when it came to the HHR SS and the HHR Panel," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "They were given the nod to pursue it and we think the result is fun and exciting; it amplifies the very best attributes that have made the HHR so popular with customers."

The HHR Panel SS concept combines production components with custom details. And while the concept vehicle will be shown at events around the country, the HHR Panel SS limited-edition production model will be offered at Chevy dealers starting in the 2009 model year.

The underpinnings and powertain of the HHR Panel SS concept include the production turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L Ecotec engine that produces 260 horsepower (194 kW), unique exterior styling and an SS-specific interior. The exterior details include production SS front and rear fascias, rocker panels, a modified SS front grille and an SS rear spoiler. It also features polished metal body side trim and 20-inch wheels that are unique to the concept vehicle, while a "suede" paint scheme has a satin appearance that recalls classic hot rods.

Inside, SS-embroidered sport seats – with suede-like Ultra Lux inserts – a new gauge cluster with 140-mph speedometer, an A-pillar boost gauge and a new, driver-oriented steering wheel support the vehicle's performance capability. The cargo area – there is no rear seat – has been customized with billet aluminum tie-downs, floor strips and load brackets.

Underneath, a tuned suspension based on the production SS's FE5 Sport suspension enables sharp ride and handling, but was modified slightly for the SEMA concept vehicle to accommodate the larger-than-production 20-inch wheels and tires. The FE5 suspension was developed and tuned at Germany's famed Nürburgring racing circuit and includes specific stabilizer bars, spring rates and damper tuning – all designed to complement the turbocharged powertrain. Along with its high-performance attributes, the HHR SS is equipped with a host of safety and convenience features, including the StabiliTrak vehicle stability control system and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

Vehicle highlights:

* HHR Panel SS
* 2.0L Ecotec turbocharged and intercooled DOHC engine with 260 horsepower
* Electronically controlled automatic transmission
* HHR SS FE5 Sport suspension with modifications to accommodate concept 20-inch wheels and tires
* Enhanced brake system
* Production HHR Panel body with production and modified HHR SS exterior panels
* Satin paint finish
* Polished metal exterior trim
* Modified HHR SS interior, including SS-embroidered seats, specific gauges and A-pillar boost gauge
* Customized cargo area with billet tie-downs, rub strips and load brackets
* GM Accessories Personal Audio Link

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